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October 26, 2010

When was the last time you Googled yourself?

Managing reputations in the online environment

Often people Google themselves or their business and are shocked to find unfavourable web or blog postings. Disgruntled customers, an angry ex-partner or friends can post blogs and photos that portray you or your business in a negative light. According to Scott Wilson, an expert E-strategist and Principal of Rankhigher.ca, the growth of personal blogging has made online reputation management (ORM) a sought-after service. Wilson believes everyone can effectively manage their own online reputations if they follow a few simple tips.

“It’s terrible to discover negative posts about yourself or your company in an internet search,” says Wilson.  “The reality is without taking legal action, the piece cannot be removed from search results entirely. In many cases, legal tactics often have the opposite effect and bring even more attention to the issue.”        

A negative posting can never be permanently removed, but most web searchers never click beyond the first page of search results. A negative post can be ‘bumped’ to secondary pages with a little work, reducing the likelihood of being seen by others. This can be done by creating profiles on various sites such as Twitter, Digg, LinkedIn and StumbleUpon, under the exact same name the negative page ranks for. This will help to bump the negative post to the second page and create a more positive picture of yourself or your company. The more sites a profile is created for, the better the chances of bumping the post to the second page. Other sites that are effective in ranking on search results include Propeller, Technorati, Youtube, Zimbio and Reddit.

Managing profiles on multiple social media sites can be overwhelming and time consuming. There are a number of free online programs that can easily update all of your profiles and help maintain a consistent online reputation. Websites can manage personal websites, social networks, blogs, contact info and photo albums all in one profile. This will help you remain at the top of the search results with content created solely by you.

“These are some easy ways to maintain your online reputation, however if your  reputation management issue is more complex, you may need to seek expert advice from online marketing firms,” added Wilson.  “ At the very least - I always recommend adding a "Google alert" with your name and variations of your business name.  Alerts are delivered right to your inbox whenever Google indexes content that contains those keywords.  Content includes anything from your Facebook Profile to news articles you are quoted in.”

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